Mizmor L'David Anthology 


Poetica Magazine: Contemporary Jewish Writing

Tirza Illuminates the Lamed-Vavniks
Julie R. Enszer

It is impossible to illuminate

the lamed-vavniks

they are not individual letters


or leafed with gold

not an ancient manuscript

locked up

preserved and restored

they are collectively

a living masterpiece

and individually

they are merely and exceptionally

thirty-six humans

(now thirty-six women)

primarily though not always Jews

scattered around the world

(G!d likes geographic diversity

It keeps the seraphim hopping)

Overall in human history

it is impossible to generalize

the tsadiks

they evolve

as G!d evolves through their

dialogue with humans

if angels were inclined to scholarship

which by and large

we are not—

it is more a human endeavor

we are not as forms


we are more operational (like me)

or emotional (like Schlomo

remember his argument with G!d

about the first female tsadik
he did not offer facts data or logic
he just felt women could not be tsadiks)
Even if we angels were scholars
studying and theorizing
about who the lamed-vavniks are
we would have little to say
the lamed-vavniks are all different
and though they fill
my world with their dramas
their daily dalliances
though they make my world colorful
over time they are only a few
in the vastness of humanity
in the thick book of the world
produced by scribes
they are only minor illuminations